Thursday, January 4, 2024

UTSA receives prestigious designation recognizing impact in educational innovation and economic prosperity

UTSA receives prestigious designation recognizing impact in educational innovation and economic prosperity

MAY 23, 2023 — Building on the momentum of its prestigious Tier One designation in 2021, UTSA has been designated an Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) University by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), a membership advocacy organization that fosters a community of university leaders working to advance the mission of public research universities.

The IEP designation recognizes higher education institutions that have demonstrated a sustainable, institution-wide commitment to regional economic engagement, growth and opportunity.

UTSA joins a prestigious class of 80 other U.S. higher education institutions designated as IEP universities. It is one of 10 IEP universities in the nation to be designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and one of eight to also be classified as a Carnegie R1 research university. This strengthens UTSA’s position as an innovative educational institution and bolsters its efforts to engage stakeholders and achieve its economic prosperity objectives.


“This designation aligns with our dual educational and research mission.”



“I’ve said this many times. I deeply believe that as Texas grows, UTSA is essential for the future of our state, and earning APLU’s IEP designation affirms our commitment to workforce and economic development and as a driver of social mobility for San Antonio and all of Texas,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “This designation aligns with our dual educational and research mission and positions us well to further advance economic engagement, growth and opportunity.”

The IEP designation complements UTSA’s Carnegie R1 Classification, which is based on data sources including an institution’s annual research expenditures, the number of doctoral degrees it confers each year, and the density of its research staff. The classification has helped position UTSA at the forefront of research and innovation and further strengthens its trajectory as a premier public research university and as a driver of economic opportunities and social mobility.

“The value of UTSA’s research centers and institutes is a significant factor and driver of economic development and success for the citizens of our city and region,” said JoAnn Browning, interim vice president of the UTSA Office for Research, Economic Development, and Knowledge Enterprise. “You cannot underestimate how valuable research is to a thriving city.”

UTSA contributed $2.5 billion in total economic contribution in 2021 and supports nearly 17,620 jobs in the Greater San Antonio region. These economic development factors contributed to UTSA’s receipt of the IEP designation. UTSA’s economic contributions include categories such as expenditures for operations and maintenance, including salaries and wages; capital and construction expenditures; out-of-the-area student spending; and the activities of the Institute for Economic Development (IED). In the San Antonio Metropolitan Statistical Area (SAMSA), UTSA contributes as much as $814.3 million in salaries and wages for workers.

The APLU’s Commission on Economic and Community Engagement manages the IEP designation process. As part of its assessment, the APLU considers a university’s “economic engagement,” including its innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and community development.

“The IEP designation recognizes the clear and intentional lines that connect the university and the San Antonio and South Texas ecosystem,” said Rod McSherry, associate vice president for innovation and economic development at the UTSA Institute for Economic Development. “UTSA will continue to strengthen and deliver talent, innovation and placemaking contributions and build the innovation and economic development partnerships that we have with industry, government and our communities. This work allows UTSA to drive economic growth and resilience for our region.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, UTSA served as a powerful economic engine for the region. In 2021, the university provided more than $1.3 billion in gross regional product and a total of approximately $73 million in state and local government revenues.

The APLU IEP designation means UTSA is now eligible to apply for the IEP University Awards given in the categories of Talent, Innovation and Place.

UTSA’s proposal for the IEP designation was developed by a steering committee with representatives from University Relations, the Office of the Vice President for Research, Economic Development, and Knowledge Enterprise (REDKE) and Academic Affairs. The committee engaged with on-campus and off-campus stakeholders to conduct a rigorous self-assessment, identifying the strengths of its economic engagement enterprise and areas for growth and improvement, including the need to better coordinate communication and functions across university silos, colleges and institutes.

The Institute for Economic Development (IED), which is part of the REDKE network, submitted the IEP application. McSherry, Senior Economist Javier Oyakawa and Senior Director Tom Tunstall led the application process.

Sam Boykin and Kevin Wier



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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


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UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education .

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to promoting access for all. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.